A Tirade about Property Rights at Kokomos Island Cafe in the Mall of America
by Matt Snyders
Introduction: Matt Snyders, a reporter at City Pages, decided to spend an entire week at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, and write an article about it. By the sixth day, he was experiencing boredom and sleep deprivation. So, at Kokomo Island Cafe, he hunkered down on a barstool and chatted up the bartenders: Kristen, a bubbly blonde; Brittany, her brunette duplicate; and Jason, a wiry little guy with a quick laugh. Someone brought up the subject of the state-imposed smoking ban at Mall of America and other public facilities. Let Snyders tell the rest of the story.
Alcohol mixes with sleep deprivation mixed with the restlessness of being cooped up for six days does strange things to a persons inhibitions. It doesnt just lower them; it grinds them into the floor and leaves a three-foot deep crater of neurotic rage. It was time to take what I drunkenly assumed to be a principled stand. I demanded a cigarette from Brittany.
Cigarette in hand, I stumbled over to each patron, one after the other, and asked if they minded if I smoked. Yeah, go ahead, some said. Others were more into the spectacle and shouted variants of do it! Once I got everyones blessing, I stood in the middle of the floor and held the cigarette to my nose. Do it, already! the crowd roared.
I lit the cigarette to the inebriated cheers of a few onlookers. I was soon raving.
An uncomforable silence descended. You could almost hear the record scratch. It should be the owners call whether he wants smoking or not, not ours. Not the city or state goverments. Even if our intent is good, what kind of arrogance makes us think we have the right to someone elses property? I took an exaggerated drag from the cigarette.
A few people clapped, probably because they figured Id shut iup if they showed me approval.
Unfortunately, I didnt.
He pulled me aside. Im going to have to ask you to leave, he said. I dont want to see you in here for the rest of the week.
I told him, okay, youre just doing your job,
here, have the rest of my beer, dont worry, Im not sick
Snyders has captured here the quintessential loneliness of the property-rights
advocate. In the summer of 2006, he attended a meeting of Metro Property
Rights Action Committee in preparation for writing an article on the
City of Minneapolis closing of Uncle Bills Food Market in
north Minneapolis. It was an excellent article - one of the best written
anywhere. And now Snyders has taken his journalistic talent to the famed
Mall of America to sample its slices of life.
From Mall of Amerisize Me by Matt Snyders, City Pages, November 28, 2007, pages 13 & 14.